Thursday, February 23, 2012


Looking back through my posts, I don't see anything about the man we've come to refer to as Dingus.  One of my favorite faculty members refers to him by this name, and she flat refused to work with him.  No wonder because he's a bit of an idiot.

In short, he's a Dingus.

Now, if I'm mistaken and I have written about this coworker, please forgive my repetition.

This all started with that never-ending search, the one that my pal from New Jersey made me look like an idiot over.  After the third round, we had to hire someone.  I was a little nerves about the choice because I wasn't sure how well a non-native English speaker would work with our faculty.  I could see potential problems there.  But that's not a very politically-correct or popular thing to I kept it to myself.

His job had two functions: help work with the faculty on instructional design (to take some pressure off of me) and help create media enhancements for online courses.  Red flags went up when my boss asked him what he'd need to help faculty record little video intros to their classes.  He listed a $5,000 HD camera, expensive editing software, and a green screen.

What the fuck?  We're talking web cam talking head videos.  You should have seen my boss's face.

He also insisted that he needed a tricked out iMac.  That he got.

Initially, I shared my office with Dingus.  I could see and hear everything he spent time on, including his negotiations with the cell phone companies for his new iPhone service.  And I about bought the boy a Kleenex box to stop the constant snot sucking that went on, between the slurps of his hot tea.  I could not have been happier when they moved us to new offices.  Until I saw the offices.

Cracker box portable buildings, with tiny office spaces in half of the building with the other half being classroom space.  Our paper thin walls did nothing to block the conversation on the back row of the classroom.  That was enlightening.

And I was still about 10 feet from Dingus.  Watching him move in was kinda awesome.  He disconnected all the fluorescent bulbs, brought in his own ambient lighting, and hung curtains.  He was told to make the videos work with a simple video camera, until the rest could be justified.  Still, each day, I watched him shut the door (like that did any good) and play with Second Life, listen to terrible jazz, and not actually do anything on the to-do list.

My boss kept asking what he did all day.  I didn't have much to report.

One day, I was working away in my little closet-sized office, and I smelled smoke.  I stepped into the tiny hallway and asked someone in another office if they smelled it, too.  They nodded.

Good God, I thought, this flimsy wiring has finally caught fire.

I flung open Dingus's door to warn him and was hit with a wall of the smoky smell.  "Oh my God," I said. "Do you smell that smoke in here?"

From beyond the haze and the bad jazz that hung in the air, he turned and gave me an indignant look.

"THAT is incense," he said.  "And it smells GOOD."

I scowled at him.  "I thought the place was on fire. It smells like smoke."

He huffed at me.  "Are we not allowed to burn things?"

"No, " I said.  "Generally, the facilities folks frown on fire in our offices."

He put it out, and was put out.

Aside from the personal annoyances, his work in general was a day-to-day struggle.  Each time my boss followed up on a project given to Dingus, the guy acted like it was a total surprise that he was supposed to do something.  He also couldn't understand that his job was to to control what our faculty could and couldn't do.  He kept trying to implement ideas to force them to use his designs, which didn't actually function most of the time.

Instead of making those little videos, the faculty suddenly got an email from him, announcing a new workshop.

"How To Create Your Avatar."

Again I said, what the fuck?

So did the faculty.  One of them called me.  "What the hell is an avatar?  And why do I need one?"

"Calm down," I said.  "You don't need one.  Don't worry about it."

When he'd been with us close to a year, he had his first review.  Afterwards, he came to me and said, "Wow, that was rough.  How did your meeting with the VP go?"

"I've never had a review with the VP," I said.

He looked baffled.  Apparently, he'd gotten raked over the coals.  This did not bode well for Dingus.

During that year, some significant decisions were made about our program.  First, we searched for and chose a new system to deliver online courses.  This transition would be a HUGE undertaking, to migrate educational materials, create new ones, and train everyone.  Second, we would adopt some national standards and develop an internal review process for online courses.  Again, huge undertaking to get that training out and get courses up to speed.

Third, we decided to host a national distance ed conference.  Remember that one I go to each fall?  Yep, it came to our place in 2011.  That will be a blog entry in itself.  Suffice it to say, though, that I was gonna need some help with this, and Dingus was expected to be that person.

So, what did he do?

He quit.

That set me up for six months of hell.  I've done all the transitioning, implementing, and conferencing.  I've worked constantly - all day, after hours, weekends, holidays.  Exhaustion has been a constant companion.  I've about lost my mind a couple of times.  The stress has been unbelievable.  But I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

See, a nice footnote here is that 1) I now have a greg iMac in my office, and 2) we ended up redoing the search and hiring a rather nice woman, who is sharp, personable, and actually helps me with what I need to do.

So much so, that I am currently on vacation.

No comments: